Kai Nip

Eddie Bearnot SOM ’17 was interested in alleviating poverty and global inequality from a young age.

After living and working in Bangladesh since 2012 and recognizing the need for healthy, low-cost snacks, the Yale School of Management alumnus co-founded Frontier Nutrition in 2017, a supplier of nutrient-dense snacks in Bangladesh, with his business partner Tanveer Ali. Through conducting extensive market research, utilizing pediatric nutrition standards and adapting their products to the cultural context of Bangladesh, Frontier Nutrition aims to combat malnutrition and improve the health of children and families within the nation.

“I was inspired by businesses over there that were either explicitly social businesses or provided things that people needed and had been doing so for decades,” Bearnot said, adding that the profits from the businesses he saw had often been used to finance social programs and health care solutions.

Frontier Nutrition’s products are available in over 15,000 retail locations and for home delivery in Bangladesh. Their snacks include the “Hashi Khushi Choco Bar,” the “Magic Misti Snack” and the “Hashi Khushi Mango Flavored Powder Drink.”

After completing his undergraduate degree at Carleton College, Bearnot worked for Innovations for Poverty Action, a research organization using quantitative methods such as randomized control trials to alleviate poverty in developing countries. While he had previously developed an interest in the government and nonprofit sector, his experiences in Bangladesh allowed him to realize his interest in social business and his desire to contribute to long-term, scalable entrepreneurial solutions.

For Bearnot, an initial challenge was developing the expertise needed to develop Frontier Nutrition’s products, as the company needed to consider a variety of factors such as taste, cost, nutrition and accessibility. The sentiment was reiterated by co-founder Ali, who emphasized the importance of crafting a knowledgeable and experienced board of directors and utilizing resources both within and outside of Bangladesh.

“It’s about the need to put together all the different moving parts,” said Ali. “It’s about assembling the right team.”

Bearnot acknowledged that both his time at the School of Management and his undergraduate liberal arts education greatly aided him in his efforts to create solutions to these problems. He mentioned that his time at the School of Management enabled him to effectively listen to and incorporate feedback during various stages of the business, go through iterations of different branding strategies and respond to feedback from experts and customers to develop products that resonated with consumers.

“The foundation of it is a good liberal arts education — reading a lot, trying to find people who are really smart and who have been doing this work for a long time,” he said. “I feel like I’m pretty good at asking questions and putting together teams.”

Fokko Wientjes — a Frontier Nutrition investor and the Vice President of Nutrition in Emerging Markets for Dutch States Mines, a fortified foods company — said Bearnot is an “engaged entrepreneur with the right connections.” Wientjes also cited Bearnot’s knowledge of the market within Bangladesh and Frontier Nutrition’s guiding principles of creating a product that was “affordable, accessible and aspirational” as factors that drew him to investing in the company.

The company is still in an early stage and seeks to further develop in the future. It is conducting large-scale trials with children and mothers in Bangladesh, raising capital to sustain initiatives and developing partnerships with the World Food Programme and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, an international development organization.

“Building consumer brands is an art,” Ali said. “If we had it our way, we would be a brand built around healthy, nutritious, safe products that are cost conscious price-wise for whatever our consumer snacking needs may be.”

Frontier Nutrition’s products are available in 10 districts in Bangladesh.

 

Neha Middela | neha.middela@yale.edu